Fun Ways to Teach Your Kids Oral Hygiene Habits
Teaching your child oral hygiene is foundational in their long term health. However, it’s no easy task! Instilling proper brushing and flossing techniques is one thing, and explaining the importance of why we must do so is another. The subject is not the most riveting, especially for a young child. That’s why we’ve compiled this article of some fun tips, tricks, and activities to make learning fun for you and your little ones!
Waiting for the Tooth Fairy
Perhaps one of the oldest tricks in the book is waiting for the tooth fairy. It’s a great way and healthy incentive to get the kiddos excited about dental health. The idea is that when your child loses a tooth, they will place it under their pillow at night and the tooth fairy will leave a little gift for them in exchange for the tooth.
It is up to you, the parent, on what gift to leave and how personalized you want to make the experience. The most common gift for exchange is a couple dollars, but there’s no “toothy fairy constitution” that says it has to be money. Additionally, it will be easier for the tooth fairy to find the tooth at night if it is in some sort of container or baggie. You can buy a special tooth fairy box for when your child loses a baby tooth. You could also have them make and decorate an envelope if they love arts and crafts. Either way, it’s fun and exciting for the kids, and it’s fun for you to see how excited they get! But be warned, it won’t last forever. And be cautious of potential spoiler threats as your child gets older, such as “Bobby from school who says his older brother told him the tooth fairy doesn’t exist”.
Reading Books About Healthy Teeth
If your child is a fan of bedtime stories, mid-day stories, or just reading in general, we’ve got the solution for you! There are dozens of books out there about keeping your teeth healthy and going to the dentist. You can read them to your child or they can read them on their own, depending on their age. The great news is that there are books for every reading level! Books on this subject are equally great for teaching oral hygiene, and for relieving any fear or skepticism about their next visit to the dentist. Below are a few of our recommendations and for different reading levels.
Brush, Brush, Brush! by Alicia Padron
The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss
The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist by Stan and Jan Berenstain
The Tooth Book: A Guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums by Edward Miller
Oral Hygiene Activities
Not all kids love reading, so you have to get creative. If your child loves hands-on activities and is more of a visual learner, this section is definitely for you. The American Dental Association is a great resource for coloring sheets, puzzles, games, and more. From holiday themed content to everyday activities, there’s something for every child.
Beyond printable crafts and activities, we also highly recommend the following activities to demonstrate brushing and flossing with simple objects you probably already own.
Activity 1: Brushing Your Teeth
Objects Needed: 1 Egg, Teabag, Toothbrush
Before beginning this activity, you will need to hard-boil one egg with a teabag in the water. Note that it is best to use white eggs for this activity so that you can see the staining from the tea more clearly. Then, remove the egg and allow it to cool. Once cooled down, have your child brush the egg with a toothbrush until it is white again. It is a great visual representation of why it is important to brush our teeth and is fun in the process!
Objects Needed: Play-Doh, Lego Block (Large), Yarn
For this activity, you just need some yarn, Play-Doh, and a large Lego block. Before you get started, place some Play-Doh in the spaces of the block (as pictured to the right). Then, have your child use the yarn to practice getting the Play-Doh out from between the block, as if they were trying to get food out from between their teeth. Explain to them that it’s just as important to clean between your teeth as it is to clean the surface of your teeth.
Brush With The Family & More
If “lead by example” is your motto, chances are you’re a parent. Kids inherently love copying everything their parents do, for better or for worse. Therefore, brushing your teeth together and letting your child watch you brush your teeth is the most effective way to teach oral hygiene. It may even help you get back in the swing of things if you’ve been slacking lately. It’s important to keep an eye on them and make sure they are brushing correctly. If they aren’t, tell them and show them how to do it the right way.
Additionally, you can make it even more fun by playing a song or two! The recommended time for brushing teeth is two minutes, so just make sure the song(s) you choose are at least two minutes long. Let your child use whatever toothpaste they like. You can do as much research on the best toothpaste brands for kids as you would like, but the most important thing is that they are brushing – even if it’s a seemingly ridiculous flavor.
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